Today we report on four National Hockey League games that were played last night. Getting most of our attention will be a 2-2 tie between Toronto and Boston that is notable not for the hockey that was played, but for a bench-clearing brawl that left everyone involved quite upset.
Also notable from last night was another win by an expansion team over one of the old squads, and two other ties between established and new teams.
Leafs, Bruins Battle to Draw
Last night’s 2-2 tie between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins at the Boston Garden was a notable contest, but not so much for the terrific hockey that was being played. The game was marred by a second-period bench-clearing brawl that was touched off by a violent collision between Toronto’s Brian Conacher and Boston’s young superstar, Bobby Orr.
The incident occurred at 5:28 of the second period with the Maple Leafs playing short-handed. Conacher was carrying the puck up the left side of the ice and as he reached the Boston blue line, he dumped it into the Bruins zone. Orr was approaching Conacher at that point.
Conacher’s stick came up and hit Orr directly between the eyes. It’s not entirely clear if the blow was a result of a follow-through by Conacher on the dump-in, or if he raised his stick to protect himself from a hit by Orr. What is clear is that Orr went down immediately, blood gushing from a wound to the bridge of his nose.
As the play swung into the Boston zone with the Boston crowd howling for Conacher’s hide, Bruins’ Johnny McKenzie jumped at Conacher and knocked him to the ice. As Conacher was prone on the ice surface a general melee broke out involving all the skaters.
Orr regained his feet and with blood still streaming from his now broken nose he charged at the scrum around Conacher. Orr pushed McKenzie away from the Toronto player and began pummelling him with a series of lefts and rights. Conacher held his hands over his head, unable to get to his feet, as he was held down by McKenzie and another Boston player.
At this point both benches emptied. Toronto captain George Armstrong led the Leafs first, with the Bruins wasting no time joining the fray.
Linesmen Neil Armstrong and Walt Atanas managed to disengage Orr and Conacher, as one-sided a hockey fight as there ever was. Orr continued to try and get at Conacher, shouting and pointing his finger at him.
Conacher skated away and refused to further engage the Boston star. That wasn’t good enough for Ken Hodge of the Bruins, who jumped Conacher and sent him down to the ice once again.
During the mess, one of Conacher’s contact lenses was knocked loose. He remained in the game, but the eye was seen hemorrhaging after the game was over. Conacher later said that when the lens became disengaged, he was unable to see and that’s why he was unable to fight back.
The brawl delayed the game for over 25 minutes. Referee Art Skov gave Orr and Conacher majors – Orr for fighting and Conacher for high-sticking. McKenzie and Hodge were assessed roughing penalties, with Toronto’s Allan Stanley receiving a similar sentence for the Leafs. Boston’s Ted Green also received a 10-minute misconduct for shoving linesman Armstrong.
During the main event, most of the other players simply paired off and watched the action. Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers became involved with Leafs’ Armstrong in a brief wrestling match. Leafs’ goalie Johnny Bower remained an interested spectator for the most part.
This was the first bench-clearing brawl in the NHL in almost four years. The last time it happened was on December 6, 1963 in a game involving the Leafs and Chicago Black Hawks. During that tilt, coaches Billy Reay of Chicago and Punch Imlach of the Leafs were fined $1,000 each, and fines totalling $2,295 were levied against the combatants and players who left the benches.
Imlach was asked about possible fines for his players this time. He retorted:
“They’d be fined by me if they hadn’t left the bench.”
All in all, every player on both teams (except for two) was deemed to have been involved, even backup goalies Ed Johnston of the Bruins and Bruce Gamble of Toronto. Duane Rupp of Toronto was already in the penalty box and wisely chose to remain there. John Bucyk of the Bruins was in the medical room for repairs during the fracas.
The fight wasn’t something that came out of the blue. The game was played at a frenetic pace and something like this was building all night. After the fight, the pace remained as brisk as it was before, with the players running at each other at every opportunity.
When Conacher returned to the ice after his penalty, Boston’s Eddie Shack took a healthy run at him, and by healthy we mean he skated clear across the ice to hit him. Skov, in his infinite wisdom, chose to ignore an obvious charging infraction.
Both teams blamed referee Skov for laxity in his officiating, both before and after the fight. Bruins coach Harry Sinden felt that Conacher wasn’t punished as severely as he should have been:
“Leafs left the bench first. What are we supposed to do, let 18 of their guys beat up six of ours guys?
“Conacher took a deliberate two-handed cut at Orr. I’m not saying premeditated, because Conacher isn’t a dirty player. But it was deliberate. He should have got more than five minutes.”
Imlach quite expectedly differed with Sinden on Conacher’s intent and blamed Skov:
“It was an accident. Skov let things get out of hand. He was lucky he didn’t have a couple of more brawls. Every time we get in a schmozzle, Skov seems to be the referee.”
Aside from all the fisticuffs, the game itself was an excellent display of hockey. Pete Stemkowski was the hero for Toronto, scoring the tying goal at 17:46 of the final period. Ron Ellis had the other Leafs goal. Orr and Hodge replied for the Bruins.
Both Cheevers and Bower played excellent games.
Flyers Tie Habs At Home
Montreal Canadiens managed to salvage a weekend point last night with a 1-1 tie with the expansion Philadelphia Flyers at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. “Salvage” is indeed the correct word, as Montreal had been defeated by those same Flyers Saturday evening right in Montreal.
Montreal native Bernie Parent, the young Flyers goalkeeper, was the Habs’ undoing in both games. Playing in only his second match of the season on Saturday, he was spectacular in the Flyers win in Montreal. He kept up his fine play last night, yielding only a goal to Canadiens’ Yvan Cournoyer.
Ed Hoekstra scored the Philadelphia goal. He gave the home side a 1-0 lead in the second period when he tipped in a high shot from the point by Flyers’ Ed Van Impe. Cournoyer’s tying goal came in the third period’s twelfth minute on a nice setup from Gilles Tremblay.
Canadiens were without team captain Jean Beliveau, who sat out with a knee injury sustained in Saturday’s game. Forward Claude Larose also missed the contest with a bruised elbow.
A good crowd of 9,188 took in the game in Philly.
Kings Stun Wings
Led by a three-goal performance by rookie winger Bill Flett, the Los Angeles Kings shocked the Detroit Red Wings, winning 6-4 at the Olympia in Detroit. Down 3-1 after two periods, the Kings scored five third-period goals to gain the come-from-behind victory.
Flett started things off in the third for the Kings with his second of the night at 5:17 to narrow the gap to 3-2. But Detroit’s Gordie Howe made it 4-2 only 17 seconds later and most in the Olympia figured the Kings would fold like a cheap tent. Instead, the visitors mounted an amazing comeback. Bryan Campbell made it 4-3 about four minutes after Howe’s marker. Billy Inglis then tied it at 11:05 netting a loose rebound from right in front of the Detroit goal.
Kings defenceman Bill White got the game-winner at 14:25. He connected on a long screened shot which Wings goalie Roger Crozier still hasn’t seen. A little over a minute later Flett added some insurance with his third of the night. He scored on a 40-footer that glanced into the net off Crozier’s pad.
Detroit battled back in an attempt to get the tie, but Kings goalie Wayne Rutledge made two great saves on the Red Wings’ Gary Jarrett to preserve the win.
Hodge Stars as Seals Tie Hawks
California Seals goaltender Charlie Hodge, the team’s first pick in last summer’s expansion draft, missed most of training camp prior to this season while he held out for a better contract. Last night against the Chicago Black Hawks, Hodge proved to his bosses that he is worth every penny he is being paid, and then some.
The Seals battled the Black Hawks to a 2-2 tie in Oakland before 6,553 fans, one of their better crowds this season. And Hodge was every bit the hero as he made 31 saves. That’s compared to 18 stops by Chicago netminder Denis DeJordy.
Hodge stopped four clear-cut Chicago breakaways and made many more brilliant saves on screened shots. He stopped Dennis Hull and Ken Wharram on close-in chances that should have gone into the net.
George Swarbrick and Gerry Ehman scored for the Seals. Ehman’s goal at 1:41 of the final frame knotted the score at two.
Chicago’s big guns, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita accounted for their goals. For Hull it was number 11 on the season, while Mikita scored his first. Mikita has missed substantial time with an injury but seems to be nicely rounding into form.
- Defenceman Larry Hillman has finally agreed to terms with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He will report to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League to play himself into shape.
- Minnesota North Stars goalie Carl Wetzel has been declared eligible to play again in the NHL. Wetzel was made ineligible after he was reinstated as an amateur last season. Professional rules state that a player must sit out a year before being able to play professionally again. The NHL teams voted yesterday to waive that requirement for the American-born goalkeeper.
- Terry Caffery scored three goals to lead the Toronto Marlboros to a 8-4 win over Peterborough in Ontario Hockey Association Junior A Play in Toronto. Other Marlie scorers were Tom Foxcroft, Doug Acomb, Tom Martin, Steve King and Frank Hamill. Ron Chittick had two for the Petes.
- Montreal Junior Canadiens downed the London Nationals in an OHA game at Montreal. Paul Lessard had two goals for Montreal, while Rejean Houle and Gilbert Perreault had a goal and an assist each. J.P. Bordeleau had the other Baby Habs goal. John Gould scored for London.
- Kitchener Rangers drubbed the Niagara Falls Flyers 8-2 at Niagara Falls. Jack Egers and Cam Crosby had two goals each for Rangers, with singles coming from Walter Tkaczuk, Mike Robitaille, Denis Dupere and Don Luce. Tom Webster and Steve Atkinson replied for the Falls.
- At St. Catharines, the Black Hawks bombed the Ottawa 67s 9-1. Skeeter Teal, Barry Salovaara and John Fisher each fired a pair for the Hawks.